Love Berliner Weisse

When temperatures are close to 40, it’s when I love Berliner Weisse beers even more …

“I’m melting, pass the Berliner Weisse!” this was basically the motto of the day in our house on the Monday after Christmas as Perth sweated and complained it’s way through a few 38+ degree days.

Like any sane and sensible humans we stayed inside for most of it, cranked the air conditioner and did lots of sitting around. We also indulged in a little “it’s the holidays!” justified Monday drinking and cracked open a few beers.

When the temperature persistently hovers around the 40 degree mark it’s hard to find a more refreshing beer than a Berliner Weisse. It’s the delicate sourness, the relatively low alcohol content and the zingy mouth feel that ticks all the right boxes.

A little information about Berliner Weisse …
It’s German, or more accurately it has origins in Berlin and it falls under appellation d’origine controllee meaning you can’t say your beer is a Berliner Weiss unless it’s from Berlin. Yup, that’s a law and that’s why frequently you’ll see the word “style” slotted in to the beer name.
It’s sour, not super dooper sour but certainly sour. It gets like this from using lactobacillus that, like yeast, eats sugar but instead of producing CO2 and alcohol like our yeast buddies, lactobacillus will produce lactic acid and therefore the lovely sourness!
It’s a wheat beer. At the heart of this refreshing sour brew is a wheat beer. Percentages of wheat tend to vary, one article I read said as low as 25% and a couple of others said 50%. The remaining malt is usually pilsner malt.
Fun Note: In 1809 when Napoleon and his troops entered Berlin and drank some Berliner Weisse beers they apparently enjoyed them so much they referred to the beer as the “champagne of the North”
Low Booze: Usually 2.8-3.8 percent ABV.
IBU: 3-6, though sour or tart, the beer isn’t bitter.
Cellaring: Debateable. I came across a few forums and the topic caused a good bit of debate and, from time to time, some name calling.
Read: style guide for Berliner-style Weisse
Read: German Beer Institute – Berliner Weisse

Buxton Brewery | Far Skyline

This was the first beer we had, it was recommended by Rich at Mane Liquor and if Rich recommends a beer, you should definitely listen because this was a cracker.

It bucks tradition a little with a higher ABV of 4.9 percent and it’s also dry hopped, a departure for a beer style that’s normally without any hop character.

There’s a light tartness, some lime and the zesty yet soft mouth feel you’d expect from this style. The dry hopping adds subtle and simply lovely stone fruit flavours.

Buxton Far Skyline

Boatrocker Brewing | Orange Sherbet

Back closer to home is this one from Melbourne’s Boatrocker Brewing. Again there’s some differences with this one, for one it’s been aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces (a wild yeast strain).

I wrote no tasting notes at all on this one, I was too busy sipping away happily but it doesn’t disappoint if you like the sound of the label. It’s bright and zingy like sherbet, there’s a lot of orange happening and hints other citrus friends along the way.

Boatrocker Orange Sherbet

Boatrocker’s Orange Sherbet isn’t their first Berliner Weisse and judging from their dedicated barrel room it won’t be the last. If you see any releases from these guys be sure to grab some.

Read more about Boatrocker Brewery, their barrel room and beers at here.

Though Berliner Weisse beers can be hard to find, there are a couple of local ones kicking around –

Feral Watermelon Warhead

Feral Watermelon WarheadThis only makes it out of the brew pub occasionally so you’re best bet is to head to the Swan Valley, grab it at the source otherwise keep an eye out for it at craftier beer bars like Petition, DTC and Bob’s Bar.

Watermelon Warhead is a Berliner Weisse brewed with fresh Swan Valley watermelon which also spends a little time in chardonnay barrels.

Mash Brewing Wizz Fizz

This one comes from 3 Ravens / Mash brewer Brendan O’Sullivan whose passion for sours is second to none. Wizz Fizz is not only a great Berliner Weisse but it’s also the base for a series of Berliner Weisse beers of which we’ve seen Purple Stain, Granny’s Apples and Cola Nick.

Read more about these beers here and here.

Mash Purple Stain

Wizz Fizz is intended to be a regular brew so this should be the easier of the bunch to find, there has been two versions released now. I went along to WA Beer Week’s Sour Power event at Mane Liquor in November where Brendan presented a few of his beers including the second version of Wizz Fizz. He said he had tweaked a couple of things from the first Wiz Fizz, using Vienna malt instead of pilsner malt, using 100% lactobacillus for primary fermentation and he also added some Brettanomyces* (a wild strain of yeast) after the first fermentation. Also, just to keep clouding the topic of cellaring Berliner Weisse beers, I’ll add in here that Brendan mentioned this beer in particular had cellaring potential to keep evolving.

*Read more about Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces etc at this great article on Draft Magazine – Yeast and Bacteria 101: Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces and Pediococcus

More Reading …

Paste Magazine – Tasting and Ranking 11 of the Best American Berliner Weisse

All About Beer – Stylistically Speaking: Berliner Weisse

Sour Beer Blog – Ask Dr. Lambic: Brewing a Berliner Weisse


My Everest Beer

Watermelon Warhead became what I like to call my “Everest beer”, a beer that sounded so grand but had remained out of my reach …

Feral’s Watermelon Warhead, a German style sour wheat beer infused with local watermelon, was released for the 2012 Great Australasian Beer Spectapular. It took fourth place in The Critics Choice Top 100 that same year with editor Pete Mitcham describing it as:

Possibly the most insanely marvellous beer to hit the scene since the discovery of yeast, this is all that a good beer should be – and less. Full of flavour, complexity and thirst-quenching satisfaction, but with little more alcohol than a Seventh Day Adventist Church picnic. The beer to have when you’d like just one more.

The Critics Choice Australia’s Best Beers 2012

I did not get to try this beer in 2012. In March 2013 I was at The Sail & Anchor during their Feral tap takeover only to find Watermelon Warhead wasn’t being tapped until the following day. Later in the year I ordered Watermelon Warhead when visiting the brewery but the kegs were dry. 2013 passed by Watermelon Warhead-free.

Many of my friends have tried it and loved it, raved about it and flaunted their drinking of it on various social media platforms. Each check in on Untappd just added more salt to my sour beer wound.

This is how Watermelon Warhead became what I like to call my “Everest beer”, a beer that sounded so grand but had remained out of my reach*

*of course living 200km from Perth didn’t really help either

Image from Feral Brewing website
Image from Feral Brewing website

Then, one day, one very unexpected day, I found it.

Last weekend I walked into Clancy’s Fish Pub City Beach where we were having lunch with my partner’s family and saw this –

Clancy's City Beach - so good to see a list of beers more prominent than food specials :P

I ordered a pint with much delight. It arrived on the table and I almost went for a swim as I nose-dived into the glass for a big ol’ whiff.

It does what is says on the box/decal. Most certainly takes me back to primary school days and getting Warheads from the corner shop before netball practice, which incidentally isn’t the best way to prepare for any form of sport.

It’s the sourness that is tangy and fruity, not sharp and cold, that I really enjoyed. The watermelon flavour is hard to ignore and why would you? It’s soft and fresh and is well balanced against the sourness, throw in that crisp apple flavour and I’m sold!

It was a beer I had been waiting so long to try, had built up in my head (and palate) so much, and it made me a very happy girl. I loved the clean and refreshing flavours, the perfect balance of sour versus fruit, the low 2.9% ABV and I can’t wait to have it again.

Fried mice … a Clancy’s must have, Crispy fried squid tentacles, Tiger prawns and mango salad, Three beef sliders, Piri piri spiced baby octopus and Fish of the day
View from our table at Clancy's City Beach
View from our table at Clancy’s City Beach